New guide for NHRIs to support victims of sexual exploitation and abuse
In partnership with the Office of the Victims’ Rights Advocate (OVRA), GANHRI has released a guide for national human rights institutions (NHRIs) on supporting victims of sexual exploitation and abuse.
OVRA supports victims of sexual exploitation and abuse by United Nations staff and personnel. From the start, NHRIs have been key allies at the national level to support OVRA fulfil its mandate.
The guide sets out practical steps NHRIs can take to promote justice for victims, including facilitating their access to legal aid and reporting mechanisms, as well as conducting advocacy, training and awareness-raising programmes.
The guide was launched during a webinar – held on 28 October and co-hosted by GANHRI and OVRA – that explored “Strengthening the United Nations’ victim-centred response to sexual exploitation and abuse through partnerships with national human rights institutions – challenges and opportunities”.
Jane Connors, the Victims’ Rights Advocate, led the webinar and highlighted the crucial role NHRIs play to uphold the rights of victims. She also stressed the fundamental importance of ensuring that the experiences and needs of victims provide the starting point for planning, developing and implementing national mechanisms to assist them.
The webinar included representatives from NHRIs, UN partners and Permanent Missions from across the globe. It was co-sponsored by OHCHR and the Permanent Representatives of Australia, Costa Rica and Germany to the UN in New York.
Speakers from the NHRIs of Haiti and Kenya said it was crucial to prioritise the safety and agency of victims when assisting them exercise their right to reparations. They also highlighted the challenges presented by multi-jurisdictional cases and the need to ensure effective and accessible reporting and processing mechanisms to document victims’ claims for investigation.
“NHRIs can be powerful allies to support the Victims’ Rights Advocates’ mandate on the ground, for the benefit of victims of sexual exploitation and abuse by UN staff and related personnel” – Katharina Rose, GANHRI Geneva Representative
Dr. Fiona Webster, Australian Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, emphasised the critical support NHRIs provide to women and children who are victims of sexual exploitation and abuse. She noted that integrity, prevention and accountability are indispensable principles that must guide the development of actions to counter these human rights violations.
GANHRI and OVRA have been collaborating over the past year to promote and strengthen partnerships with NHRIs in support of victims. The webinar, which took place during the 76th session of the General Assembly, included a video on areas of collaboration with NHRIs.
Ongoing work between the two organisations will ensure a platform to exchange good practices and identify opportunities for collaboration between United Nations stakeholders and NHRIs to uphold the rights of victims to assistance and support.